The ongoing battle for Mosul, one of the largest cities in Iraq, has involved thousands of government-backed troops and allied fighters steadily advancing on the last urban stronghold of the terror group ISIS. In addition to elite Iraqi counter-terrorism troops, battle-hardened Kurdish peshmerga fighters and U.S. air support, ISIS fighters are facing a unique foe in the form of a remotely controlled combat vehicle developed by two brothers in Baghdad.
Dubbed “al-robot,” the device is a four-wheeled armored vehicle, considerably smaller than a Humvee or tank, with a 12.7mm cannon and side-mounted 70mm rockets. The main gun is equipped with a thermal-imaging camera that allows the device to be used at night. It is being used in the field during the battle for Mosul by the Iraqi Army’s Popular Mobilization Unit, which reported its first use on Tuesday.
In a statement to Vice News affiliate Motherboard, the PMU said the robot would be used for three primary missions: “Nighttime hunter missions, daytime combat missions and all-day support role for any troops requiring it.”
The PMU reported on Twitter Wednesday that it has engineers “developing [a] local-built stabilized gun turret in future models for accurate on the move fire against ISIS,” and that upgrades to the thermal camera are also in development.
The device requires two operators, one to drive it and one to operate the fire control system. It is unclear what Al-robot’s range is.